In his recent general conference address, Elder Deiter Uchtdorf recounted the very familiar story of the prodigal son as told by the Savior and the celebration that the father gave for his returning son that his more obedient son resented. The joy that was celebrated by the father was both genuine and justified, but so was the 'bad' attitude of the son that had dutifully served his father. I see little evidence that the better son hated his repentant brother or wished him ill, only frustration that parties were thrown for prodigals and not for the stalwarts. However, is not this the way of things so that the fallen are encouraged to be redeemed?
Celebration of the redeemed has been ingrained in our society by the biblical record. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seems just as enthralled by the concept with whole local conferences devoted to highlighting the stories of the newly-baptized and the recently-returned. Doing this is both good and right and hopefully most church members rejoice in the attention given to others. Besides, it is somewhat promulgated in gospel discussions that the prodigal son's grumpy brother is in some sort of transgression for not putting aside personal feelings and selflessly joining the party. It is just as apt that today's dutiful church members better not transgress or dampen the loud attention lavished on the redeemed.
Have you stalwarts ever been tempted to arrange a convenient 'falling away' just to garner a little more 'prodigal' attention and consideration at some future day? You have surely noticed that the newly-redeemed are not asked to contribute much, lest they get scared away, in comparison with multiple callings and responsibilities heaped upon saints who keep showing up year-after-year. Like the prodigal story, the father reminds his dutiful son that everything will be left to him, but it seems small praise in the moment after years of sacrifice, and the modern stalwarts are assured of the glorious reward ahead for their lives of diligent yet unheralded service. As much as Elder Uchtdorf spoke of our traditional celebration of the restored, we have the recent talk from Elder David Bednar to provide some solace to those who continue laboring without attention.
I am always grateful for the times that Latter-day Saints organize some party to honor the long-suffering folks that kept local wards and branches running, hopefully before it becomes some after-the-fact memorial service. It doesn't need to be as regular as our activity-planning to put the redeemed in the spotlight, but we need not neglect or condemn the prodigal's dutiful brother.
We can have the long-term faithful occasionally kill the fatted calf, wear the ring, and invite all the friends over for their own party. It's okay, we are not transgressors for wanting it! I'll donate some balloons to it.